You may feel you don’t need instruction on how to do this. You’re probably right. But you still might not do it if you don’t know the whys and wherefores! And especially if you don’t know the benefits. My job here is more to convince you of the importance of doing this exercise and getting you to actually practice it.
You know that’s what we’re doing here. We know you have read and read and read all there is to read about health but this program gives you the step–by–step coaching required to entice you to finally do the deed. Essentially, I want you to start – once a day or at least once a week – walking backwards. Sounds kind of crazy, doesn’t it? On our beach walk the other day we saw a man walking backwards up the hill. That’s a first for me on Maui.
Let’s all do something a little crazy. Let’s start The Backwards Walking Movement!
Benefits Attributed to Backwards Walking
• Strengthens and relaxes your lower back — preventing chronic back pain.
• 100 steps backwards is said to burn as many calories as 1000 steps forward (talk about a time saver) because you are essentially lifting yourself backwards versus the easier movement of falling forward into your steps.
• Supports your peripheral vision and hearing (because you can’t see where you’re going).
• Forces your mind to do something consciously that you’re accustomed to doing subconsciously.
• Allows you to use the back of your thigh (hamstrings) and foot muscles instead of the front of your thigh (quadriceps)— essentially unwinding them.
• Less stress on your knees.
• Strengthens the hamstrings, which usually have much less to do than the quadriceps.
• New neural connections will grow in your brain to accommodate the new activity, which keeps your brain active and more alert.
• Improves balance.
Where to Practice
Until you’ve had some experience with this exercise, I recommend you find a place that’s safe and that you’ve inspected it for potholes, bear traps or landmines. A racetrack, soccer field, a beach or beach boardwalk are ideal.
If you can’t find a place to safely walk backwards you can simply walk backwards in a circle in your backyard, driveway or even your living room. Just make sure to reverse your direction halfway through so you don’t stress out one side of your body. I even walk a few steps backwards as I’m standing at my pedestal desk working. (I’ll go into details in Module 60 about the benefits of working at a pedestal desk.) If you live in a part of the world with poisonous snakes you may want to have a bell on your ankle so you don’t end up stepping on anything that might not appreciate your foot over its venomous backside.
How Much and How Long
You may want to go slowly. Start with 108 steps or something like that. This exercise can even become your walking meditation. Watch the world drift by. Pretend that you are actually standing still and the world is just moving underneath. Watch things flow around you. All day long we are charging forward — now you can just sink back as the stream flows on. If you want more of a workout, though, you can move up to speed walking or jogging – instead of counting steps just set a timer for whatever amount of time works for you.
Fit It In Anywhere
Ideally you’d want to reserve a time in the morning or evening for Backwards Walking. This isn’t always possible. In which case, you can easily fit in 20 backwards steps in your office while on your lunch break.
There are countless times when we are forced to wait for something during the day… why not wait walking backwards? My publisher sings his young son to sleep each night, carrying him in his arms, walking backwards in a pitch black room. You might just start walking from your parking spot at work to the front door of the building. If
we’re walking anyway – why not do it backwards?
Questions and Answers
Won’t people think it’s kind of strange that I’m walking backwards?
Probably. But why let that stop you? They might even point, laugh or make fun of you. People don’t like it when people do anything out of the norm. They like conformity. Shake them up! A reader on my blog commented that he celebrates the fact people think he’s a “wackadoo.” Likewise, I celebrate being a health nut Pollyanna! You can just ignore them. That works fine. If they don’t get a reaction from you they’ll probably just shut up.
I like to just reply: “Thank you!” What can they say to that? If they get a laugh out of your antics, great, you made someone happy. Actually, most people will think your some kind of kung–fu master, walking backwards as
part of your secret training, and they’ll just keep quiet.
How can walking backwards strengthen my hamstrings?
Make no mistake, moving your whole body about makes a lot of work for your leg muscles. You are so used to your legs and feet doing all this work that it becomes subconscious…until you walk up a very steep hill or walk for an hour instead of a few minutes to your car. When you start walking backwards you will awaken little used muscles and balance your body in a way you never have before.